Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I MADE IT-- Add on some more C.S.

Sorry for 2 posts in one day, but I had to put this one up. I ALSO just finished The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis really just about an hour after publishing that last post. So make that 17 for 2008. That's 1.4 a month.
It was about the hardest book I've read all year...a deep one. Hard to grasp.

The Books I Actually Finished

Here's a list of the books I actually finished in 2008. 16 in all. Next to the author's name is the date I finished. Enjoy.

1. Out of Africa
, Isak Dinesen (2/19)
This is an autobiography that I had to read for a class, but it turned out to be one of my favorites of the year. After I finished, I learned that it's also a movie, and that the movie won best picture in 1985. I haven't rented the movie yet, but someday, I will. It's a great read about a women who lives in Africa on a farm with natives. It's basically a collection of vignettes about her time there with the people. Great read.
2. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Mary McCarthy (3/1)
I had to read this one for the same class. Wasn't as good. Slightly interesting, but mostly sub-par. I'm not going to recommend this one.
3. Life of Pi, Yann Martel (2/24)
This was a fun and interesting and (seemingly) thought provoking read. I thought it was going to be pretty deep and present some big questions, but in the end it basically presented its underlying philosophy flat out: believe whatever is easiest for you to believe.
4. Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, Randy Alcorn (3/3)
A modern day Screwtape Letters. Always good to get the demon's perspective. Scares you a bit.
5. Poetics, Aristotle (2/28)
Pretty much all of creative writing technique is based on this short, less than 150 page book by Aristotle. If you want to be a writer it's an essential. If not, pass on it.
6. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (4/30)
I guess I expected to find symbolism and cool connections with reality and so on, but, to me, it was just a non-sensical story that had its moments but really went on too long.
7. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell (4/28)
Another autobiography. It's Orwell's story of his early days as a homeless, jobless, hungry vagrant in the streets on Paris and, well, London. An interesting perspective and a good read. If you like autobiographies, consider it.
8. Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey (5/4)
Good advice on getting out of debt. Luckily, I'm not in too much debt (darn student loans!)
9. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield (5/25)
Dr. Jack Simons, my college adviser and professor for many of my writing classes, gave this to me as a gift upon my graduation. I read it pretty quickly (the chapters are really short and that always makes it easy for me). It was somewhat enjoyable, but it was mostly just saying that if you want to be a writer, you have to please the muses of writing by sitting down and writing 2 hours a day, rain or shine. The funny thing was he actually believed in muses, which was kinda weird.
10. Desiring God, John Piper (8/3)
Awesome book that has gotten me hooked on all things Piper. Read him for challenge or inspiration or deep thinking. Desiring God especially has it all. Read it.
11. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Prisig (8/12)
This is simply a philosophy book in story form. Hard to follow at times, and not entirely worth it at the end. Interesting, but, in a sense, futile.
12. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (10/11)
This was a pretty sweet book. McCarthy is coming off a good year after what's become of No Country and has grabbed my attention. He has a certain style that I like, simple and concrete, Hemingway-ish, I might say, but also quite pulling emotionally. Tragic yet hopeful-- and also a brilliant depiction of our world.
13. Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper (12/1)
Every high school graduate Christian should read this book. Period. It's incredible.
14. Peace Child,
Don Richardson (12/2)
I love reading missionary stories, and this is one of the classics. Set in 1960 Papa New Guinea, in the Sawi tribe, where they have never seen white skin, heard of cars of planes, and most importantly, heard the name of Jesus. In the tribe, treachery and deceit are the highest virtues. It's an incredible story of how God uses the missionaries to bring the gospel to the tribe, and how it turns their world upside down.
15. Crazy Love,
Francis Chan (12/6)
This book is really innovative, with online supplements to some of the chapters and online videos that go with them. In the first chapter he goes: "Now go to and watch the video on there. Seriously. Do it." and then the chapter goes on. You can always count of Francis Chan to do something in a new way. It was a good book, a lot like John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life but a little less of a punch in the face. Maybe it was a punch in the stomach- I don't want to minimize the impact of the punch: it was good.
16. ‘Till We have Faces,
C.S. Lewis (12/26)
You've already read my review to this. If you haven't scroll down one post and you'll see.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, by C.S. Lewis

Probably my last book of 2008, unless I squeeze in a short one before New Year's, but most definitely not the least favorite of 2008 was C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces. It is not one of Lewis' most popular books-- in fact I had never heard of it before I got it as a gift a couple years ago for my birthday. I put off reading it for a while simply because I was reading other books and when I decided I wanted to read it it was mostly because I had been reading a lot of non-fiction Christian living books and I felt like reading some fiction. I got more than I bargained for-- and I liked it.
The story is a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Pysche, set in a pre-Christian world of kings and queens and castles and knights. The story is narrated by Psyche's oldest sister-Orual, whose ugliness has left her unmarred and unwanted. The book that she writes is her "complaint against the gods." It is compelling from the first chapter, but increasingly draws you in as you begin to question the reliability of the narrator, her motives, and even the nature of love itself. The culmination of the book, in perfect Lewis fashion, leaves you in awe and longing, perhaps to start the book over and read it again.
It was Lewis' last book and his own favorite; and if you're looking for a read similar to Narnia but with some more depth, this is the book for you. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a Christmas Time Blog!

-->Christmas is a time of joyful celebration. Come December, it seems like there’s just a huge change of mood. People are happy and energized for the holiday season. Carolers are in the streets, dressed up and singing boldly. The masses are excited to go out and spend money on friends and family—love is in the air. If I were Pastor Gary, I might have just broken into song. But seriously, can you feel the change? Can you sense the energy and excitement? It’s the Christmas Spirit.

I have to admit that when Christmas time rolls around I get excited. My family, to fan the flame of the Christmas Spirit has traditions. In fact I think that traditions are one of the most fun things about Christmas. On Christmas Eve every year we’d go out to my grandparents house and exchange gifts, and on the ride home we’d sing Christmas songs. On Christmas morning, my dad, who never cooked any other time all year, would put together an awesome bacon and eggs breakfast topped off with a choice between orange juice or sparkling cider! It was also a tradition of ours to go out to the Christmas tree lot and pick out a Christmas tree in the first week of December. Family traditions are one of the joys of the season.

Of all the Christmas traditions, the Christmas tree tradition is the most widespread. The funny thing is that few of us really know the background of the Christmas tree? Why have a Christmas tree? Why decorate it with lights? Why put a star on top?

Well, I did a little research as to why we have Christmas trees. I’m sure there is more to it than this, but one of the reasons we use Christmas trees can be traced back to 16th century Germany. In 16th century Germany it was common for Christian churches to put on plays at the beginning of the advent. The play was of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and on stage they had what they called the Paradise Tree. They decorated it with colorful flowers and apples. After telling the story of Adam and Eve, and after both of them had eaten an apple from the tree, there would be read the biblical prophecy of a coming savior to save us from our sins.

There is also a legend as to why we decorate the Christmas tree with lights. It is said, that on a cold December night as Martin Luther was walking home, he saw the glimmering of the stars through an old pine tree. He was struck by the beauty of the sight and decided that he would decorate his Paradise tree with candles. Apparently, the trend caught on, and slowly Europe started following Luther’s lead.

The star on top of the tree symbolizes the star that led the wise men to see baby Jesus. Sometimes, instead of a star, there is an angel, which represents the multitude of angels who appeared to the shepherds and cried “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace—good will toward men!”

The final step of the popularization of the lighted Christmas tree came during the Victorian Age when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were portrayed in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a decorated, lit Christmas tree. Being the popular rulers that they were, the lighted tree quickly became fashion. Soon enough, around Britain lighted Christmas trees went up in the house.

And now everyone has a Christmas tree. And we decorate it now with some of the most meaningless, hilarious things. Not to say that it’s bad, I just think it’s kinda funny. It seems that you just accumulate weird ornaments along the years and then they become way too sentimental and you can never get rid of them. We had this one growing up that I made when I was in kindergarten. It was a milk cap with a picture of me glued to it covered in glitter. There wasn’t enough glitter to actually hide the fact that it was a simple, plain blue milk cap. But there was just enough glitter to get all over you whenever you pick it up to put on the tree.

These things are part of the joys of Christmas. It’s even kind of fun to know how and why the Christmas tree came to be a living room constant in December. The truth is that the Christmas tree, however well we know all the history and symbolism behind it, is a mere addition to the true joy of Christmas. The true joy, which comes from knowing Christ our Lord. This true joy is what we call the Christmas Spirit. And it’s something that I contend we take quite seriously. This Christmas Spirit should be the mark of all Christians everywhere—and not just during the Holiday Season. We should bear this mark all year round.

I can’t say it better than J.I. Packer,

We talk glibly of the” Christmas Spirit,” rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning. It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit ought to be the mark of every Christian all year round…The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others—and not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need.

Enjoy the Christmas Spirit and let your Christmas Spirit give others joy. Because Christmasis a time of joyful celebration.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If Christmas Never Happened...

Take a look here to get a glimpse of what the world would be like if Christ never came.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Joyful and Triumphant

After some long months of preparing for our Christmas musical, Joyful & Triumphant, we can rest. We had our musical Sunday night of the 14th. One of the words that someone used to describe the musical was "flawless." That's incredible, considering about a half hour before the doors opened mics were crackling, speakers were blaring, and we were worrying. But in the end, once the lights went down and the thing began, things went perfectly.
All that preparation for 1 hour. Was it worth it? Yeah, I think so. It was fun to be a part of a choir (I hadn't done it since the 6th grade) and get to know some of the people in it better. In fact, thinking back on it, I had a blast. Next stop: Easter Sunday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Want a Free Ipod Touch??

Okay, Tim Schmoyer, a fellow youth pastor, on his website showed how he got a free ipod touch, a Xbox 360, and $580. Here's a real picture of him and his ipod touch.
Anyway, I'm trying it. It's actually quite simply. All I need are four referrals. You sign up, and it counts as a referral to me. According to Tim, you don't have to worry about spam because this company has a pretty aggresive private policy. So, if you want to get me an i pod touch for Christmas, click here. This will take you to a website and it will ask you to sign up. Just do it. It costs nothing.

When you all come through and I actually get the i pod touch, I'll post some pictures of myself as living proof. See ya soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

God is Huge...Period

I love the Pink Floyd in the beginning. It's awesome. But seriously, after watching this I can't help but worship.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Top Ten

Every body loves reading a top ten list. Well, here's a list that's fitting for the season. Here's my top ten things I am thankful for this side of eternity.

10. Cheap Bottled water. Man, down here in Fallbrook water from the tap tastes like they forgot turn on the DIRT FILTER when they made the water. That's why I'm thankful for Fresh n' Easy's 24 pack for $2.99

9. Technology. How in the world did youth ministry exist before email, ubiquitous cell phones, and ipods? Hmm...does that say something about my ministry?

8. Seasoned Youth Pastors. Because they get it.

7. Bloggers who actually have something to say, and people listen. I am not one of these, but am inspired by them. I don't even know what it takes to get there.

6. Falling gas prices. I just filled up our brown car for $15! The funny thing is that people are still complaining about ridiculous gas prices ("Well, with the way gas prices are these days...")

5. Really good music. The Beatles. John Mayer. Others. I love listening to good music. Brings a smile to my face.

4. Thanksgiving Meals. Not just Thanksgiving dinner. I'm talking about all the meals before and after and around Thanksgiving. It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and I've already had a Thanksgiving dinner, a Thanksgiving Luncheon, and a Thanksgiving coffee break.

3. The Church Family. One of the biggest joys of the season so far was walking through the crowd of our church family during our Thanksgiving dinner while we were all singing Great is Thy Faithfulness. It was beautiful, not in the sense that it sounded good, but in a different, more sentimental sense. It brought a smile to my face.

2. My Senior pastor. A lot of youth workers complain about theirs. I am thankful for him. I couldn't do what I am doing without his support. Truly a mentor and example.

1. My wife. Far and away the number one on this list. I seriously question my ability to exist without her. The biggest joy of my life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holidays are Here

So, the holidays are here. Can you believe it? They always come so fast. Here’s something that J.I. Packer wrote that has impacted me. And I think it’s timely.

We talk glibly of the” Christmas Spirit,” rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning. It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit ought to be the mark of every Christian all year round…The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others—and not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need.

As Christmas time gets nearer, let’s spread the Christmas cheer. And then, when it’s over, let’s do it again

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Close Up

Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe...And he said "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

After this many of the disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

Were they offended? Hurt? Was it because they couldn't understand? Was it because Jesus wasn't being politically correct? Was it because Jesus' words were just too radical?
In any case, Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth, even if it meant lower crowd attendance.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sesame Street Culture

No wonder school is boring. When you grew up watching this, why would you ever want to sit still and listen to a professional school teacher teach you to count to 8?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Argentina Here We Come

So a few weeks ago I got the okay to go to Argentina. Grace Brethren Church (the church that I grew up in) is going to Argentina. Greg Barshaw, the missions pastor who is leading the trip, invited me to come along as a chance to learn, be trained, and gain some experience in leading. I am so glad for this trip and I am excited for what the Lord is going to teach me.
Ashley is going too. I am so glad that she is able to go. It will be such an awesome experience going on a trip like this together. What an opportunity.
We are going to the city of Corrientes, in Northern Argentina. It's located by a college university campus so we'll be primarily working with some college age students. The missionaries that we are going to be helping out are relatively new to the area and will be looking foward to a team to come help them jumpstart their ministry there.
I don't know hardly any spanish. It will be interesting to say the least.
Pray for us. Pray that the necessary funds would come in. Pray that the Lord would use this trip in our lives and the lives of the people we'll be ministering to.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We're in Good Hands

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America.

God Almighty, the 1st and only sovereign ruler of the universe.

We're in good hands.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thoughts of an Inexperienced Youth Pastor Pt. 3

So truth be told I am struggling with the disappointment that comes from having a small youth group. There are so many reasons this shouldn't really phase me, and I know all the reasons. The simple truth is that sometimes it's just hard!
I'm not a numbers guy when it comes to youth group. I don't really count how many kids are there, I'm more focused on spirit caused epiphanies and those words: "O now I get it!" Sometimes, I just wish the youth group was bigger. Is that wrong? In a moment of weakness I googled "how to grow your youth group" and one of the first ones on the list was this. It really seemed to refresh me, even though it's kinda corny. I believe (and I constantly have to remind myself of this one) that the most important part of youth ministry (or any ministry for that matter) is being filled with the Spirit. Another little thing that helps is remembering that God is working, even though you may not see numerical increase...

But I still want a bigger youth group!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Lakers

I am proud. I am proud of my Los Angeles Lakers. Very proud.
When Shaq left LA with it was hard. I knew there could be no replacement for the self proclaimed MDE (Most Dominant Ever). And I knew that there would have to be a waiting stage. A rebuilding phase, if you will. I was not looking forward to it, but I stood by my Lakers.
It was hard to watch the Laker's 04-05 season. When they finished the season 34-48 and far from the playoffs it was just weird. I was used to getting together with friends and watching the playoffs. But there were no play offs.
A couple more years like this went by. Lakers blow a 3-1 lead over the Phoenix Suns in the first round. Mediocrity. And things seemed to only get worse.
My growing discontent for Mitch Kupchak hit its peak with Andrew Bynum the non-factor seemed to be a bust. I was bugged. I was deeply saddened when the rumors that Kobe wanted to be traded started circulating. Just so you understand how bad I was despairing, I started thinking that we were sinking into an organization similar to the Clippers' (drafting the Kandi Man in the first pick of the 1998 NBA draft just illustrates the direction of their organization). As you can see, it was a hard time for me.

I distinct remember the moment everything turned around. I was sitting in my locker getting ready for basketball practice when Joey Fuca came in saying that the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol. I couldn't believe. At first I was skeptical and asked who they traded, thinking that they had given up half their team to get him. When he told me that the only people they gave up was Javaris Critterton and Brian Cook, I was amazed. Who consented to that? Why wasn't it vetoed by the commish? What were the Grizzlies THINKING??

And it all happened right around the time Bynum started to prove himself. Suddenly, Mitch Kupchak looked like a prophet and I suddenly began approving him in everything he did.

And then they were finalists. I was so proud. I'll be honest, I didn't see it coming. But after a long and hard road, the Lakers are back on top, and I'm proud. They came so close to a fairy tale ending last year but it was just out of reach. This year is ours. I'm calling it now.
Lakers vs Celtics in the finals--

Lakers win in 7.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama's America

Read this. This election counts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pastor Von

I went on a one day trip to Mexico years ago. I wouldn't say it changed my life forever, but there was a man on that trip that people called Pastor Von that has forever been etched in my memory. Although I couldn't remember his face, I could remember his fearlessness, his blunt manner of speaking, and his loving determination to change lives.
Now, years later, as a youth pastor I sit here in my office thinking about cool things the youth group could do for the Lord and the name Von came to my mind. I knew two things about him: he worked out of San Diego, and he had a ministry where he brought people into Tijuana to clean/feed/help the impoverished. I decided to google "von mission trips" and nothing came up. Then I remembered someone mentioning him to me in an email a while back so I went into my yahoo mail and searched "von". Lo and behold, there was an email that mentioned Pastor Von's ministry. When I searched "Pastor Von" this was the first item on the list.
When the picture loaded, I recognized him. I also remembered the name of his ministry: Spectrum Ministries. When I saw he had a blog, I had to read it. And lastly when I read these words, a smile came over my face and I almost welled up in tears...I don't know why but these things are close to my heart. He wrote, after much talk about the dangers of Tijuana:

"Sunday I'm heading into one of the more dangerous areas of the city to preach. Does this make me a hero or a fool? Neither. I'm just doing what God wants done in a dark part of the city that needs a little light. I'm not preaching scared or walking scared."

Man, how awesome is that. We could use more of that in the world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading List 2008

GOAL: To finish reading 25 books by the end of 2008

So far I'm only about half-way to my goal. I'll try to jam in 13 books in November/December. (Does Go Dog, Go! count?)

Finished Books
1. Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen (2/19)
2. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Mary McCarthy (3/1)
3. Life of Pi, Yann Martel (2/24)
4. Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, Randy Alcorn (3/3)
5. Poetics, Aristotle (2/28)
6. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (4/30)
7. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell (4/28)
8. Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey (5/4)
9. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield (5/25)
10. Desiring God, John Piper (8/3)
11. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Prisig (8/12)
12. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (10/11)

Books in Process
1. Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould
2. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
3. Good-bye to All That, Robert Graves
4. Peace Child, Don Richardson
5. The Ultimate Priority, John McArthur
6. Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain
7. They Like Jesus But not the Church, Dan Kimball
8. Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper

Books I Want to Read
1. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
3. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
4. How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler
5. Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
6. Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
7. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
8. Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders
9. Heaven, Randy Alcorn
10. The Seeing Eye, C.S. Lewis
11. The Satanic Verses, Salamon Rushdie
12. The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren
13. Penrod and Sam, Booth Tarkington

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Church

The church is a group of sinners who are saved by grace through faith. Though the church consists of humans, it is called to do the humanly impossible.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get Smart

So the other night Ashley and I went out and saw "Get Smart." Yes, I know that it's a little late for a review on this movie because it came out such a long time ago, but, if you want to get movie reviews from me, you're going to have to wait until it comes to the $3.25 theatre in Temecula because I ain't paying $20 for Ashley and I to sit for a couple hours and watch the big screen. So any movie I review will be late.

It was kind of funny. There were some parts that I laughed out loud, but it really wasn't all that hilarious. I love Steve Carrel, and I think the was the actor for the part, but I felt like the part was too much nerd and not enough klutz. When I watched the TV show when I was a kid (it was a family favorite) it was always so funny how Smart could botch up everything and still manage to accidentally win. In the movie he was a good fighter and had a brilliant memory--quite competent, in reality. In the show, he was altogether serious- but always messing up.

Okay that's enough trivia. I'm out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thanks to the Hawthornes

By the end of August we’ll be beginning our transition from Al and Katherine Hawthorne’s guest house to our own apartment. Though we are excited to get into our own place, we are deeply grateful for the blessing that the Hawthornes have been in our lives.

When I received the call that Thursday morning back in April that Pastor Gary Golike wanted me to be the associate pastor of this church, I was so excited. I couldn’t stop laughing afterwards. Eventually, when the euphoria wore off, I got to thinking about where in the world we would live down there. I hardly had any money, I had no idea where anything was—and I was moving there in a month. All I knew was that I had a job waiting for me and a fiancée that expected a roof over her head. As we traveled down late April to look for an apartment or guest house or something , I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know how or where or what to look for.

When the Hawthornes offered to let us stay in their guest house rent free, I was so relieved. I felt like a huge burden was lifted off my back. Ashley and I had been praying for months that God would provide—and, just like He had done in the past, He provided. We thank God for the Hawthorne’s ministry—they have definitely been instruments in God’s hands.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Poem Without a Name

A question whispers as a breath
of life and as a kind of death
It speculates the fruitful tree
and why it must exist with Eve
and Adam in their perfect state
they could not have presumed their faith
Because everything they knew was free
from sin, and nothing did they see
was botched with something imperfect.
They stood before their God erect,
unashamed and satisfied
to walk under the ever-pines.
And God enjoyed them at His side
It seemed that nothing could divide
the bond that in between them held,
but now- the hosts of heaven felled,
and down upon the earth, a third
confused what earned that horrid word
that cast them from before the throne,
"Was He not pleased with our loud drone?
The words we sang with our great lips?
Our songs were not enough for Him."
And for the first they tasted dirt
and groveled in the awesome hurt
realized by the given choice
and haunted by that booming voice.
And now, forever, bounded to roam
the earth without ever a home
without a place to rest their heads.
Their bitterness all beauty shreds.
To live among creation now
with all that makes their jealous brow
furrow in the unbelief
that God, once theirs, would hide relief
and force them live among his sons.
With Adam, full of bliss, he runs
through grass and shade unto his bride,
in perfect love, no need to hide
their bodies from each other's gaze.
And in the glorious Sun they bathe
unaware of jealous rage
that lingers in the shadow's shade.
In hidden, vile hearts- an oath
was birthed out of their guiled loathe.
But since all deeds they practiced pleased
God who made the Garden's trees
"What could make these creatures fall-
to fill their hearts, familiar gall?
All we'd need a simple rule
to serve as a specific tool
to draw the creatures into doubt
and force their Lord to kick them out
of perfect pleasure, doomed to feel
the pain of losing what is real.
To use the rule that God had made
to draw them both into the shade
under the tree so they could eat
the beautiful forbidden treat."

A God of love! Could he provoke
His son to hate the words He spoke?
That He would grow within the midst
of perfect beauty, perfect bliss
a simple, growing tree with fruit
designed to steal immortal youth?
But Adam must have known the scheme
behind the tree. He never dreamed
that Abba would within contrive
a plan to confiscate the lives
of image bearers- infant babes
so innocent dependent they
just wanted nothing more than Dad
to walk with Him and make Him glad.
And Eve who set the standard of
a woman's understanding love
never once began to doubt
that Father wanted children out
of His Garden, made for them
for somethine they can't understand.

When Adam pruned a lucious peach-
enjoyed the blessed fruits in reach,
no doubt he saw the cursed fruit
and understood a simple truth:
Without commandments to abstain
one would not know how to obey.
No reason then to such adhere,
no purpose for a godly fear.
Such law's existence, not so trite.
T'was made to show Adam upright.
Was not a curse purposed to damn,
to make their goodness just a sham,
but rather was a tool to bless-
remind them of their righteousness.

A truth- that God cannot so tempt
his sons with evil. Such intent
denies the Father's innate good
and claims that such a diety could
blunder in His competence-
create something that gives offense
to His own name- a big mistake.
Omnipotence, it could not make
such an item in the ground
No. No such thing would there be found.

So on the day creation rang
for the first time all nature sang
together in collective song.
And in them one could find no wrong.
All joy, perfection, love, embraces,
no evil in the lowly places.
God created girl and boy
and one small rule to so employ
the joy that comes from obeying
what Almighty's words are saying.
But at the aforementioned word,
The Corruptor fell to earth.
And so from here the story goes:
He'll take the truth and give it bows
and ribbons- with a little twist-
something that you may have missed
if you forget about the fight
he'll sing you his sweet lullaby.
So arm yourselves; unsheath your swords
and listen to Almighty's words.
You'll see the question has been faced
and still God has not been displaced.

The question whispered as a breath
of life-corrupted into death.
I started writing this in Horner's English Lit. class during school. I got a little carried away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Walking Places

So I had this idea one time while I was walking. That idea was to video my feet as I walked. I did it for about five seconds. When I went back through my pictures and watched it, it all hit me. I wanted to video just seconds of all the places I go in my life. If you watch closely in this video you'll see a few things. You'll see me climbing Half Dome, you'll see me leaving my office in Fallbrook, you'll see me walking along the Big Sur coast, you'll even see me walking--graduating from college. Maybe to you these things will be boring, but to me each little video is a remnant of my life that I don't want to forget. And though the feet are ugly, they are the things that have carried me all this way.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Desiring God-- John Piper

I just finished reading John Piper's benchmark book, Desiring God. It took me a long time to finish and I am quick to blame busy-ness but I don't like blaming busy-ness for a bad reading schedule. Earlier this year I made it a goal of mine to read 25 books in 2008. I'm not on schedule.

But I have finally finished this one, and I'm very glad of it, because it's one of the great books on what it really means to be a Christian. John Piper has a uncanny ability to communicate effectively what is in his mind. The topic of this book is something that Piper calls "Christian Hedonism," which at first glance sounds like a contradiction of terms. Piper says that hedonism, living in pursuit of whatever pleasures you, is at the very center of real authentic Christianity. How can that be so? Because seeking after God in every area of your life 100% is ultimately the most pleasurable experience man can have. God doesn't demand (or want) joyless followers. He wants followers who leap in excitement out of their joy for their Master, and gladly follow Him.

It's a great read. And now that I'm done I'm moving on to a different book. Peace Child by Don Richardson, which is the telling of a true story of how the gospel came to impact some tribal people in New Guinea back in the 60's. I'll get back to you when I'm done to tell you how I liked it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Little Things

My last post was real quick because I was so excited to get married. Now I've been married for a month. I love it. I love my wife.

Today Ashley was making me macaroni and cheese and she spilled all the noodles everywhere. It was really funny. We laughed hard for a long time because it was her very first kitchen blunder and there were noodles everywhere. We ended up salvaging some of the noodles-- there were about half that were still edible. The other half she gave to me. We still put in all the cheese and butter and stuff, making it the cheesiest macaroni I've ever eaten.

Married life is just a joy. It's all about enjoying the little things.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

6 Days

I'm getting married in six days.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Memories and Groomsmen

And now, upon the entrance of my last week of singlehood, I have a few memories that I'd like to get down on some metaphorical paper.

1) The time Clark broke his front teeth.
2) The time Chad weighed more than me.
3) The time Beaty and I spied on Clark.
4) The time John and I went on that undie run.
5) The time Andy thought he could beat me in Settlers.
6) All the times Ryan and I made #1 hits. All starting will "Slapped by a Lung"
7) The time Steve $7.50'd
8) The time Myles tried to superman over me at lake Tahoe.
9) The time Jared won in pool basketball everytime, simply because he was on my team.
10) The time Brett beat me in Risk on his very first try.
11) The time Chris and I build the manliest fire ever made.
12) The time Evan showed me how to dance.

Ah the memories. There's too many more, but that's one for each of my groomsmen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Piece of Advice

If there is one piece of advice that I could give to the world. A piece of advice that transcends all gender, race, and cultural differences; a piece of advice that is useful for every single living soul on this planet; a piece of useful advice that I ignored and am right this second paying the consequences for ignoring it-- the advice would be this:

Floss regularly.

Seriously, people. Root Canals are not fun. Last night I was under the drill from 5:20 to 8:20. That's right, Dr. Beye worked me over. Annihiliated me. Demolished me. Demoralized me.

I hate the dentist

Saturday, May 31, 2008

College Basketball and Christianity

The other night I got to play basketball. I haven't been able to play ball for some time now and I've been antsy to get out and do something active.

It reminded me that the Christian life is fun. It's hard too-- don't get me wrong-- but the fact that something is hard does not take away its "fun-ness".

The reason I was reminded of that is because I thought back to my first two years of college. Our basketball coach was insanely hard. I've never done anything harder in my entire life. But guess what? Those two years were probably the most fun I in with collegiate basketball experience. What made it fun? The people around me.

I think the Christian life is similar. There's something special about a group of likeminded people working hard together day in and day out for a cause. As believers, that's what we're doing! We are working through sin issues, fighting through addictions, overcoming adversity, practicing holiness. And even though we fail every day, we ARE IN IT TOGETHER! We bear each other's burdens. We pick each other up. We encourage and admonish and assist each other. We don't take ourselves too seriously because we're dead men! We laugh and whistle and tease because we are filled with the love God has filled us with.

It's a great thing to remember. It's much better than trying to do it alone, which many of us try to do quite often. We're not in this alone. Lean on me.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thoughts of an Inexperienced Youth Pastor Pt. 2

I love my job.
And here's a brief description of what I'm doing.
I'm working with fun people doing fun things all in an effort to bring people closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am blessed. I have a part in music ministry, which I love doing. I get to work with high school aged kids and I love doing that too.
And, if you are reading this, say "Lord, Help Eric's Ministry!"
Ha! Just by writing that I tricked you into praying for me.
But seriously, I appreciate your prayers.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thoughts of an Inexperienced Youth Pastor

As I begin this new career, I have such a mixture of feelings. I am so excited to get started and to be in the midst of it and go through it all. I also have a small feeling of inadequacy. Of course, the thought that I am inadequate isn't exactly wrong. The fact is that I am inadequate. To do this kind of work, there is nothing in me that I can apply to this youth group to change it. There is nothing I can do to grow individuals closer to the Lord. And because of this my inadequacy actually comforts me, because I know that God is going to do all the work. I just have to be faithful and obedient, and God will work through that.

It's something that I think I am always going to have to remember-- that God is working. Maybe I can't see it or feel it or even sense it, but if the Word is being preached (pray that I preach it accurately!) then the Holy Spirit will use it. I can't wait to get started because I know I am going to see God do some incredible things in me and to my new home church in Fallbrook.

As my momma always said, God is faithful! He is going to do his work on this earth, and the sweet thing is that he lets us take part in it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

God is Faithful

It's always easy to look toward the future and be terrified, even though we can look into the past and be reassured. That's what I've been struggling with these last few weeks. A look into the future was a look into the complete unknown; all I knew is that a wedding was being planned for June 20th and by then I was supposed to have enough money to support a wife. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I was not sure about anything. I think sometimes it is good for us to take a look at our past-- at all the times we were so scared about the future-- and remember what God has done in those times.

You may not know it, but I have been pursuing youth ministry. It's been a crazy story; I think it would be a good idea to write it down soon before I lose the complete memory of it, but I must say, after many months of uncertainty, God has opened a door. I've accepted a youth pastor position at a church in Fallbrook, CA, just south of Camp Pendleton. Ashley and I are super excited.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Practical Proverbs

I've been doing a study on the Proverbs. It's actually quite a simple study. This is how I do it: I read a chapter. After I'm done reading it I go through each individual verse and put it into a category. For example, Proverbs I would put 1:7, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" in four different categories. I put it under a "Fear of the Lord" category, a "Knowledge" category, a "Fool/Foolishness" category, and a "Wisdom" category. There are so many categories that I have made (I'm in chapter 12) that by the time I'm done, I'm going to have a great resource for studying Proverbs and use. If I want to look up verses that have to do with money, I go to my "Money Issues" category, and look up the verses there.
Not only is it going to be a great resource, but it also forces me to think about what I'm reading. There are many verses that I have to figure out what the meaning is. For example, today I struggled for about 15 minutes with 11:15, "Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure." I had to go to some commentaries for that one. It has forced me not to breeze through the Proverbs without thinking about them, cause that's all I've ever really done in the past. The cool thing I've found is that these Proverbs, once understood, ARE SO PRACTICAL. They hit on the everyday issues. This is the kind of wisdom that I need. This is the kind of wisdom that we all need! And, according to chapter 2, if we diligently look for it we will find it-- God will not with hold it from us!
I'm pretty pumped about my Proverbs study. It's true that the more you dive into the Word, the more you WANT to dive into the Word.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Seeing and Hearing

My mind is vacuum.
Everything I hear and everything I see gets vacuumed up into my brain and stored away. And, by the way, my brain has an incredible amount of space of its hard drive. That means that all the things I see and hear are the things that are on my mind. The more I hear them and the more I see them, the more I think about them. Paul tells us to think on specific things:

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

It is a goal of mine to think about these kinds of things more than I think of the other kinds of things. How can I change that? By altering all the things I see and hear. Listen to Christian music, stay away from immoral movies, READ the Bible, READ books about the Bible, read books about your world. Write. You cannot practice this verse in Philippians unless you control what you see and hear. You will automatically think about the things that you let into your brain. That's why you protect your mind from the poison of worldliness that can corrupt it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

This whole reading thing has been great. I have set goals for myself, as you know. 25 books in 2008. It is the beginning of the third month of the year, which means I should have read four books by now; and should be getting ready to go for 5 and 6. I will have you know that I am on track.
I have read four books. Three of them have been for class, but I've also been able to get some pleasure reading on the side. I read Life of Pi over the course of a week in between books I had to read for my Autobiography class and thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I don't think it's as deep as people want it to be. It's good simply because it's a good story with likable characters. It is my opinion that people who make it out to be a philosophical tome have been mislead; it's a good book because it's a good story. It's as steeped in philosophy as you think.
Out of Africa, an autobiography written Isak Dinesen, a woman who left her homeland of Denmark to live in Africa on a farm amongst the natives, was my favorite read of the first four. It was a required read in the class. I started out reading it with determination; I had to get through the book-- I was committing to it. Ten pages in I was hooked to Dinesen's magical prose; it was the kind of prose that reminded me of C.S. Lewis-- it didn't matter what she was writing about; her simple eloquence and keen insight made for an astonishing account. I would have liked to meet her.
Poetics is a classic work by Aristotle. It is the most basic piece on writing tragedy. If you ever want to write any kind of story, Poetics must be strongly suggested. After all, Aristotle and his works helped found Western Civilization.
Just ten minutes ago I finished reading another book that was assigned to me in my autobiography writing class. Memories of a Catholic Childhood by Mary McCarthy. It was hard to me to get through; I didn't like the protagonist. The most interesting part of the book was the chapter where she "lost her faith." Other than that, I didn't feel like she had much to say. It was about her family life; her friends; the life she lived at school. Where as Dinesen always made an effort to attach it to the real world, McCarthy didn't, and her work suffered for it.

Anyway, I am just happy that I've been on track so far.

If you haven't got the point yet-- START READING. Carry a book around with you and read it in the 5 minutes you are waiting for your friend to meet up with you. Exercise your mind! People who don't read are fast on their way to senility.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Books Goals '08

I just finished reading "Out of Africa," a book written by Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen). It's the first of my 2008 book list.
As I mentioned before, I am setting a goal. I want to read 25 books in 2008. It's really not a super ambitious goal, but it's a start. It comes out to two books a month, which means I am already behind. I have a whole plethora of books that are just begging to be read by me once school is over-- some C.S. Lewis in there, some Randy Alcorn, and even some Michael Crichton. I'll be keeping you updated as I finish the books.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Future

I am in a portal.
It's called "The Last Semester of My Senior Year."
This portal will take me into a new world. As Morpheus would say, "Welcome to the land of the real." That's where I'm headed.
What I'm saying is that my life is going to change drastically in the next six months. For one, I'm getting married in June. I can't wait; I know that it's going to be a big blessing in my life. It is still, however, a step into the unknown-- simply because of the fact that I've never done it before.
I've never really had a serious job-- my job has always been basketball and school. Once basketball is over I'm going to have to get a job that has an income. I am going to have to pay bills. These are things I've never done before. They are on my mind often.
I'm in a strange place in my life. It's life I have a brief outline of what I want to be doing with the next few years of my life but only God knows the actual story. I'm just one of his characters that he's developing. It can be a scary place, but it's good. It's like being led through the darkness by a hand and a voice that you trust more than anything in the world. It really gets scary when I stop listening to His voice and pull my hand from His.
I can't wait to see where I end up. I'll keep you posted-- that is, if you keep reading my blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy and Inspired

The title of this blog is a lame pun, so let me explain.
The fact that I had created and effectively sustained a blog for some time last year randomly came back to my mind today as I was checking my email. I decided I'd log in for some reminicsing of the good ol' days when I used to blog nearly every day about the interests in my life. I have something like five people on my blogroll, one of them being Happy Gilmore's consistent, up-to-date blog titled "The Happy Couple." I decided to stop by for a read.

The article with the big list of books caught my eye. It turned out to be a list of the 47 books he read over 2007. Although he failed in accomplishing his goal of 50 books, he succeeded in inspiring me to make a similar goal. Not only that, but also to keep up with my blogging.

Happy, thanks for inspiring me.

I'm back.